The Art Of Critical Thinking!

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Contrary to common human practice that likes to dichotomize and/or categorize everything and divide into simple little parts, life does not follow human rules, regulations, or “logic.”

Life is a beautifully designed process that follows the best possible alternative of quantum physics!

It is patently obvious, at least to those who still manage to remain self-conscious, that the complexity of life, in every way, keeps increasing exponentially.

Paradoxically, this dramatic complexity augmentation has also afforded humans the ability to develop the one and only skill they need to handle the ever-growing turbulence and hyper-uncertainty, namely, critical thinking.

It is paradoxical because most people feel they don’t have time to think, let alone to think critically!

A myriad of books have been written about a variety of human “intelligences” (e. g., Emotional Intelligence, Practical Intelligence, Analytical Intelligence, etc.) and thousands of studies have been conducted on cognitive skills that keep categorizing and dividing the brain’s properties and functions.

While this work is commendable, for it has contributed to our better understanding of the human mind in many ways, it has also created very misleading ideas in regards to how to go about utilizing our brain power.

You see, many “experts” sell their services and/or products to help fellow humans handle the complexity of their daily lives by further developing specific properties of the brain separately, e.g., to further develop your creativity, your memory, your analytical power, etc.

The good news is that you only need to develop your critical-thinking skill. Yes indeed, by further developing this skill, each and every other skill is also further developed by default!

Now, make no mistake about it, developing your critical-thinking skill is by far the hardest thing you’ll ever do, at least until you get the hang of it, but it will take a few generations for this skill to feel completely natural, i.e., effortless.

Open-Mindedness

Until then, being capable of “intellectually and, in a disciplined process, actively and skillfully conceptualize, apply, analyze, synthesize, and/or evaluate information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action” as Michael Scriven & Richard Paul put it, will not be entirely possible.

Depth Of Thought

This artful skill, once fully developed, exhibits naturally i.e., effortlessly, the following properties:

Scope Of Thought

The ability to ask and be inquisitive rather than to provide answers.

Clarity Of Vision

The ability to delve into unfathomable complexity with great precision.

Accuracy Of Thought

The ability to encompass and envision many viewpoints at once.

Consistency Of Thought

The ability to have clear a crystal-clear vision and a sense of a higher purpose.

Relevance Of Thought

The ability to avoid errors or distortions of thought.

Intention/Fairness Of Thought

The ability to avoid cognitive dissonance.

Inquisitiveness Of Thought

The ability to determine priorities and remain grounded and pragmatic.

Plasticity Of Thought

The ability to exercise emotional intelligence, i.e., to manage positive and negative emotions in order to avoid biases, while maintaining moral and ethical values and principles.

Ingenuity Of Thought

The ability to question in order to innovate.

Passion Of Thought

The ability to be pro-actively adaptive.

Positiveness Of Thought

The ability to imagine the unimagined, i.e., to be creative.

The ability to desire, with courage, perseverance, and determination, to exercise and implement your thoughts.

The ability to maintain a cheerful mind on a continuous basis, i.e., positive attitude.

Critical thinking, therefore, includes scientific thinking, mathematical thinking, historical thinking, anthropological thinking, economic thinking, moral thinking, and philosophical thinking.

As of yet, we can only be critical thinkers to a certain degree, with some given insights and blind spots, subject to given tendencies towards self-delusion.

As of yet, critical thinking of all kinds cannot be complete in a given individual. We are still subjected to undisciplined and/or irrational thoughts. Their quality is still a matter of degree dependent upon, inter alia, the quality, and depth of our experiences. Hence, the importance of Emotional Intelligence (EI). EI embraces the last eight of these traits. Being able to manage our intelligence is, therefore, the most important aspect of critical thinking.

However, through the power of evolution, this will dramatically change before the eyes of our grandchildren.

Here’s To The Health of Your Critical Thinking Art!

JC Wandemberg Ph.D.

President & Founder

Sustainable Systems International

About the author: Dr. Wandemberg is an international consultant and stocks trader, keynote speaker, published author, professor, and analyst of economic, environmental, social, managerial, marketing, and political issues. For the past 30 years Dr. Wandemberg has collaborated with corporations, communities, and organizations to integrate sustainability through self-transformation processes and Open Systems Design Principles, thus, catalyzing a Culture of Trust, Transparency, and Integrity.

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